Archive for October, 2014

What Is a Ground-Source Heat Pump?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Geothermal systems are pretty ingenious. Harnessing the steady temperature of the Earth just below the frost line, these systems can heat and cool your home without the use of fossil fuels. One of the key components in the system that allows it to work as it does is the ground-source heat pump. Heat pump technology can be used in several ways, including air-source and water-source, making them very versatile devices. However, it takes expertise to work with a heat pump. If you are planning to use a heat pump for this winter’s heating, make sure you hire experts you can count on: Sound Heating.

How Does a Ground-Source Heat Pump Work?

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one location to another. With a ground-source heat pump, the heat pump is installed in your home, typically in a basement space if you have one, and is attached directly to the ground loop of your geothermal system. The ground loop has an anti-freeze solution in it that absorbs the stored heat in the ground. This heat is transferred to the heat pump, where it is concentrated in the heat exchanger. Once the heat has been compressed, it is distributed into your living spaces.

In the summer, the opposite happens. The heat pump absorbs the hot air in your home and transfers it to the ground loop, where the surrounding dirt acts as a heat sink and absorbs the heat.

What Are the Benefits of a Ground-Source Heat Pump?

  • Very energy efficient – heat pumps use a small amount of electricity to operate and no fossil fuels at all.
  • Comfortable heating and cooling – heat pumps distribute heating and cooling in a low-volume way, so both heating and cooling are gradual and, for many, more comfortable.
  • Long lifespan – the life of an average heat pump is 20-25 years, as compared with that of a furnace or boiler, which is 15-20 years.

If you are looking for improved efficiency without sacrificing comfort, a ground-source heat pump may be just the heating system you need. Call Sound Heating today and schedule heating service in Tacoma with one of our installation experts.

How Does a Boiler Work?

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Boilers were one of the first whole-home heating systems. Today’s boilers are very energy efficient, and can distribute heat through radiators, baseboard heating and radiant heating. How does the system work? We’ll detail more of that below, but what is important is having a reliable heating company to call whenever you experience problems with your heating. For over 20 years, Sound Heating has provided expert heating service in Tacoma and we can help you with any problems you may be experiencing with your boiler. Call us today!

How a Boiler Works

Boilers work by heating water and distributing the heated water, or the steam created from the hot water, through outlets like radiators.  Fuel, such as natural gas or oil, is ignited in a combustion chamber, and this flame heats the water in the system in one of two ways:

  • Firetube – enclosed metal tubes are submerged in the water tank and heated by fire or hot flue gases; this heat transfers to the water.
  • Watertube – instead of gases, water is inside the tubes, and the water is heated via combustion flames that surround the outside of the tubes.

With steam systems, the steam produced is kept in a dome on the top of the water vessel until it is released into the system for heating; the hot water releases when it hits the correct temperature. The water or steam circulates around the system, and when it cools, the cooled water returns to the boiler’s vessel for the next cycle of heating.

Benefits of Boilers

There are a few benefits of boilers worth considering:

  • Energy efficient – boilers have an average energy efficiency of 89% and can go higher than 95%
  • Comfortable heat – the heat coming from a hydronic system (system that uses water) is gradual as it radiates, which can feel more comfortable than forced air
  • No dust – boilers are closed systems, and as such, do not circulate dust the way a forced air system can, which can be very good for allergy sufferers

Boilers are efficient, durable systems, and can be a great choice for heating. If you are in need of a new heating system in Tacoma, call the people you can trust: Sound Heating.

Steps to Take Before a New Heating Installation

Friday, October 17th, 2014

A new heating system is a great opportunity to improve your energy efficiency and comfort, and to install a system that can better fit your needs. Before moving ahead with a purchase, though, it’s important to complete a few preliminary steps, preferably with the help of a trained professional. Part of our Sound Heating HVAC service involves helping with these steps to ensure that you install a heating system that fits your home perfectly and provides the comfort you need. If you are getting ready to install a new heating system, call us today.

Steps to Take Before Installation

Choosing a Type of System

There are a number of choices available to homeowners when it comes installing a new heating system. Some of these choices are:

  • Furnaces (both gas and electric)
  • Heat pumps (both ducted and ductless systems)
  • Geothermal systems
  • Boilers (gas and oil)

Understanding how each works, whether a system needs ductwork, and knowing both the advantages and disadvantages of each system are important factors that should go into your decision.

Energy Efficiency

Using an energy efficient system is good for both you and the environment. Today’s heating systems are very energy efficient, but there is some variation between systems. To measure the efficiency of combustion systems, you want to review the AFUE rating – the annual fuel utilization efficiency. This rating is the measure of combustion system’s efficiency in converting fuel into energy; the higher the AFUE, the more energy efficient the system. For non-combustion systems, like heat pumps and geothermal systems, you’ll want to review the Energy Star ratings and the HSPF ratings. HSPF stands for heating season performance factor. This rating system ranges from 1 to 10, with the highest efficiency ratings measuring between 8 and 10. HSPF is calculated by dividing the total electrical energy consumed by the heat pump system (in watt-hours) during a specific season by the total space heating required during that same season (in BTUs).

Size Calculation

One of the most important steps you can take before choosing a system is knowing exactly what size system you need for your home. Many people only factor in the square footage of their properties when sizing a heating system – several other factors need to be considered to be accurate. Some of these other factors are:

  • Orientation of your home
  • Amount of daytime heat gain your home has
  • Levels of insulation
  • Number and types of windows and doors
  • Floor plan
  • Number of rooms
  • Number of occupants

Incorrectly calculating your heating load can lead to the installation of a heating system that is not correctly-sized for your home. You can avoid this by working with a trained professional.

A new heating installation can be a great opportunity for you and your home, but using a trained professional is very important to the process, which is why sizing, etc., is part of our HVAC service in Tacoma. If you are ready to take the next steps toward heating installation, call Sound Heating today!

What to Look for in an HVAC Service Company

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Having a reliable heating and cooling company is a necessity for homeowners. However, finding one can sometimes be a challenge. There are some specific things you should look for in any HVAC service company in Tacoma, and we’ll outline a few of them below. Sound Heating has been serving the Puget Sound area for over 20 years, and our NATE-certified technicians are available 24/7 for any repairs needs you may have.

HVAC Companies: What to Look For

Here are some things to keep an eye out for when choosing an HVAC service company:

Are they licensed and insured?

Using a company or individual who isn’t licensed and insured puts you and your HVAC system at risk. How? Any problems that occur – injury to the technician, damage to your equipment – will not be covered. The liability will fall on you.

Does the company have an office and physical address?

A real service company should have some kind of physical address, not just a phone number.

Is the company part of any national trade organization?

Organizations like NATE (North American Technician Excellence) and others denote that technicians have the training and knowledge necessary to work on your system.

Are the employees professionally dressed?

Having a uniform with an ID tag indicates that the company takes a professional approach to their jobs.

Does the company carry any name-brand products?

Manufacturers are picky about who carries their products – after all, it’s their name that’s out there. As such, manufacturers vet their vendors before allowing an HVAC company to carry a specific product line.

Does the company offer emergency service?

Unfortunately, heating equipment doesn’t break down at convenient times. You need to be able to get a hold of a repair person, even if it’s 11pm on a Sunday night.

Is the work guaranteed, or is there a refund policy?

You want to have confidence that a company will stand by its work and also put customers first.

It can take some time to find an HVAC service company in Tacoma that will meet your needs, but it’s worth it. If you have questions about HVAC service, or want to know more about how Sound Heating can help you, call us today.

Should I Schedule Maintenance For My Furnace?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

You may not have turned on your heating yet, but the cold weather is coming. One of the best ways to make sure you and your heating system are ready for winter is to schedule HVAC maintenance. There are multiple benefits to performing maintenance, and fall offers a perfect time to schedule it. Scheduling fall HVAC maintenance in Tacoma with a NATE-certified technician from Sound Heating will ensure that your system operates at peak performance, even when winter sets in.

Why Should I Schedule Maintenance?

Maintenance offers a few benefits that are important for you and your system: 

  • Increased energy efficiency – after a busy summer season, it’s very likely that your HVAC system is in need of some TLC before it starts working for the winter. It’s hard for your HVAC system to achieve its normal level of energy efficiency when it is dirty and worn. During a maintenance appointment, your system is cleaned and adjusted, and all moving parts are lubricated; this allows your system to work optimally, making it more energy efficient.
  • Prolong life of equipment – premature aging is more likely to occur with equipment that isn’t well-maintained. This is because parts that are dirty or worn out can’t work as they are supposed to, so to achieve the heating you want, the components and system have to work harder. Working harder over a long period of time can age the equipment. When regular maintenance is performed, your system is good working order consistently, which reduces the overall level of wear-and-tear.
  • Helps prevent repairs – no one likes waking up to no heat on a cold winter morning, and fall maintenance can help to greatly reduce the chances of this scenario occurring. During a maintenance appointment, your system is thoroughly inspected for any problems. If anything is found, you will be made aware immediately so that repair can be arranged. Getting ahead of repairs helps prevent breakdown during the winter months.

Scheduling HVAC maintenance now can save you headaches down the road later. Call Sound Heating today and schedule a maintenance appointment with one of our NATE-certified technicians.